Email marketing is one of the most important elements of success for any business, whether you sell products online, have an offline store, or promote affiliate products. Email marketing allows you to build relationships with your potential customers and market to them over a long period of time, increasing their lifetime customer value. In order to make email marketing work for you, though, you need to know what big mistakes to avoid in order to get your emails delivered, increase your conversion rates, and keep your email campaigns from being shut down altogether.
Mistake #1: Spamming
Because spam is such a problem, most ISPs and free Web-based email services filter all incoming emails for spam by blocking messages that include specific combinations of words or phrases. They also work closely with anti-spam organizations to block out all email messages from domains and IP addresses of known spammers.
If your emails are blocked, it can take weeks or months to fix the problem. In some cases, if you really make a mistake, you might never be able to send emails from a specific domain or IP address again.
Take a minute to think about how much that can damage your business. You will waste a lot of time trying to fix the problems. You’ll lose important promotional opportunities with the people on your opt-in list. You will damage your credibility and relationships with your subscribers. And that’s not to mention the costs and hassles involved with setting up a new domain and IP address.
Mistake #2: Ignoring Proper Email List Maintenance
Always take “remove” requests seriously. To comply with CAN-SPAM regulations, people who opt out of your list must be removed within ten days. Your best bet is to implement remove requests every day or couple of days, in addition to right before each mailing.
Record the date, time, referring IP address, and referring webpage for every sign-up you get, in addition to the person’s first and last name, and email address. Keeping good records is always a good business practice, but it is absolutely critical where your opt-in list is concerned. If you ever get accused of spamming, you can clear your name much more easily if you have good records to back up your email practices.
Mistake #3: Not Providing a Clear Way for People to Opt Out of Your List
If you don’t give your subscribers an easy way to opt out of receiving your emails, your message will be flagged as spam. For example, you can use the following text to tell people how to opt out of your list:
If you have received this message in error or with to no longer receive email from us, please visit the URL below to unsubscribe. You will automatically be excluded from any future mailings.
Mistake #4: Forgetting to Include an “Add Us to Your Contact List” Message
Perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways to guarantee delivery of your emails to your recipients’ inboxes is to ask them to add you to their “safe list,” which is a whitelist of trusted senders that they want to receive emails from.
You can add a line in the welcome message that you send to new subscribers to your list (as well as in subsequent emails to them) that says something like,
You subscribed to this email list because you want to receive the latest news, tips, and special offers from [your website]. To guarantee that you receive each mailing, please take a minute to add our address to your “safe list.” Thanks!
Mistake #5: Hiding Your Opt-In Offer
The last thing you want to do is hide your opt-in offer and make your visitors need to work to find it. Don’t make the mistake of placing a tiny “newsletter” link at the bottom of the page next to the legal disclaimer link, or else in the navigation bar between “Links” and “Contact Us.”
There are two opinions as to where the best place to position your opt-in offer is:
- If your homepage consists of a long sales letter, then you should put the opt-in offer somewhere on the second fold of text. By that point in the letter, you should have already grabbed your visitors’ attention and shown them that you have valuable information to offer them. They will be more inclined to want to give you their contact information.
- If your homepage doesn’t have a long sales letter, then you should place your opt-in offer somewhere prominent on the first fold of the page. The top left of your page is a good place to put your opt-in offer, since people’s eyes are usually drawn there first.
Mistake #6: Not Testing Before You Mail
The best thing you can do when it comes to ensuring that your emails are being delivered to the major email providers is to create a good test list. You should create your own email accounts with Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail and then before you send out any mailings you should send a test mailing first and make sure you received your email in each of your four inboxes. If you didn’t get the message at one of these accounts, then chances are other people with that service probably won’t either.
If your message doesn’t get delivered to one of these accounts, examine the email before you send it out to your real list to try and figure out what the problem is. Do not just send out your emails anyway because chances are a lot of people won’t get it since it’s being blocked as spam. You will only hurt your reputation with the email service provider if you send out an email that you already know they view as spam.
Mistake #7: Not Segmenting Your Email List
One of the most effective ways to use email marketing online is to use email promotions to target different segments of your audience. According to research conducted by Marketing Sherpa, businesses who segment their email lists to target specific sections of their target audience have higher open rates (the percentage of recipients who open their emails). Business who segment have an open rate of about 30.86%, as opposed to the open rate of only 4.14% seen by businesses who do not segment.
Similar results were found for clickthrough rates (which is the percentage of recipients who click on a link in an email). Businesses who segment their lists typically see clickthrough rates of about 6.68%, compared to businesses who do not segment and only see a 0.48% clickthrough rate.
Mistake #8: Not Targeting Your Email Campaigns
Studies show that email campaigns that are created with a specific audience in mind perform better than general campaigns. Once you’ve segmented your email list, you should tailor your email messages to specific groups of people.
For example, you can target your best customers. Try targeting your best customers (who ones who have made the most purchases with you) with special “Thank You” promotions.
You could also target customers who haven’t bought anything in a long time. Send this segment a special offer to win back their business. This is sometimes referred to as a “We want you back” promotion. Sometimes a simple bonus discount or gift is a very effective way to win back people who haven’t purchased from you in a long time.
Mistake #9: Using an Ineffective Subject Line
Because of the huge amounts of mail people need to sift through, people are quick to delete any message that doesn’t immediately catch their eye and show that it affects them personally. It’s also of special importance to you that your emails don’t get dismissed by their recipients as spam.
Think about how often you check your own email and find tons of messages with subject lines like this: “MAKE $50,000 PER WEEK GUARANTEED!” Do you ever open emails like these? Of course you don’t! The subject lines alone are dead giveaways that these are spam emails. They yell at you, they don’t address you personally, and perhaps most importantly, they don’t offer a clear benefit that makes you want to open them.
The most important thing you can ask yourself to determine if your subject line will be effective or not is: Does this subject line make the reader want to open and read your message? You’re goal is to send out emails with subject lines that are impossible to ignore.
Mistake #10: Not Matching Your Subject Line to Your Email Content
You need to make sure your subject line relates to the body of your message (and this connection should be obvious very early on in the body of the message). Actually, under the CAN-SPAM Act, you are legally required to include a subject line that is authentic and not misleading.
People don’t like to be fooled or tricked into doing something. Trying to trick your readers into opening your emails will damage your reputation and the trust and respect they have in you. You can avoid all this by simply ensuring that your subject line relates to your email’s message. Your readers should be able to tell what the subject line was all about after reading the first few paragraphs of your email.